Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Run or Roll

Some of you probably saw my triumphant post to Facebook on Friday. I was running my C25K workout while leading Blue. I was also taking a picture and posting to Facebook. All of this was possible at the same time during Week 1.

See, isn't this fun?

Day 1 of Week 2 started off a bit more challenging. Yes, the time spent running increased. But the more challenging part was literally dragging my extremely barn-sour horse down the road with me. It is one thing to go for a run when you aren't fit. It is something else entirely to do it with 1,200 lbs of dead weight behind you (and still not be fit).

I thought the plan was a good one in these days of waning daylight. It is dim by 7:30 now, so I wanted to multi-task. We have an established loop of about 6 miles of road. The first section doesn't have a shoulder and people bomb down it at a ridiculous speed. I figured I'd run/lead that section since it is so dangerous to be mounted on it, then hop on and finish the loop once my half-hour run/walk was done and we were on a more horse-friendly stretch of road.

I didn't count on my horse leading so sluggishly, or on the road noise being so loud I couldn't hear the prompts from my iPhone. The leading problem was such a mess that I finally stopped and picked a good switch from a bush next to the road. When Blue lagged, I gave him a little smack and he smartened right up. Except then he was rushing ahead, dragging me down the Mojonnier hill. 

So then I had to jerk him back into the correct leading position again. Then he'd start thinking of home and lagging. Smack. Jerk. Smack. Jerk. ...for half a mile or so.

I knew he was lazy on the lead line, but it wasn't a training priority until now. Now we need to establish that his place is at my shoulder, on a loose rope—no exceptions. I think we made a lot of progress in that direction on Monday, but I didn't set out for this run to be a training exercise. Of course, all that jerking and dragging and switching and stopping to rewind the program to hear if I was supposed to be running or walking meant that I did a lot more work than I was really meant to. C'est la vie.

So, workout complete, I mounted up to finish the loop. Of course, Blue thought he knew a shorter way home. (And actually, the way he wanted to go would have been shorter, but that wasn't the point. I am the one who picks the route. I am The Decider.) We trotted along beautifully at a nice clip on a loose rein for about 100 yards, then, with no warning at all, Blue simultaneously broke into a canter, turned back on the pavement (as luck would have it, there was no traffic at this point) and attempted to high-tail it back to The Pen.

We had a conversation involving backing, bending, turning, some mild swearing and an application of spurs, and set off again in the correct direction at a very smart "working walk." I only had to dismount once more as we passed the two gray mares who like to run up and down the field fence as we go by. Normally, I'd ride past them for practice, but Blue was still pretty volatile, and I didn't want us to end up tangled in the barbed wire on the other side of the road.

Once we were at the end of the mares' enclosure, I mounted back up and we made tracks for home. Back on familiar road and facing the direction of The Pen, Blue perked right up. To keep it interesting, I switched diagonals 10 times in one straightaway and then made him go slower and slower the rest of the way home. We even saw Heather and family out for a walk as we neared the house, so I turned Blue back to ride alongside them for a little bit. He was none too pleased, but as I said before, I am The Decider.

Once we got back to The Pen we had another short lesson on bowing—we're getting very close now! I look forward to the day when he will bow so I can mount bareback. Wouldn't that be a cool trick?
[Tuesday update: I did Monday's running program again today, sans horse. Guess what? It was waaaaayyyy easier.]

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